On April 5, Nine will launch 9Rush, a new multi-channel in partnership with Discovery.
The channel will feature shows from Discovery’s brand, including Discovery Channel, Animal Planet and Science Channel.
While some have suggested 9Rush is Nine’s response to Seven’s 7Mate, Nine program director Hamish Turner told B&T it’s simply a way for the broadcaster to fill a gap in its content slate and target a specific audience segment more deeply.
“We looked at our suite of channels and our audience profile at Nine and asked, ‘what don’t we currently have in that mix and what do we want a little more of?”
“This is a very much male-skewing, 25-54 channel that targets real-life male content.”
Turner said Nine had tried to access Discovery’s content for a while, but that its deal with Foxtel was “pretty stringent”. However, after renegotiation of that deal, Discovery content became available to Nine.
“Content’s now become available quite quickly after sitting behind a paywall. An opportunity arose. It had content that sat in targeted audiences we wanted to build,” said Turner.
Currently, Nine’s digital channels include 9Gem, 9Go and 9Life and HD versions of Nine and 9Gem.
“We wanted a channel and more importantly, a pipeline of content, that could give us a guarantee for multiple years. What this does is provide a greater footprint across all audiences, and most specifically the ability for advertisers to target kind of males 25-54 […] and 9Rush is the place we increase that reach and do it efficiently.”
Discovery already has existing programs in Australia.
In December, Seven signed a deal with Discovery, moving its Food Network shows onto 7Flix and true crime content onto 7Two.
Foxtel also has a multi-year agreement with Discovery. The media company runs Discovery Channel, TLC, Discovery Turbo, Animal Planet and a crime network Investigation Discovery.
However, according to Turner, there will be no content crossover between the channels.
When asked if any content on 9Rush would be locally produced, Nine director of network scheduling Geoffrey Dyer said the broadcaster is “open to opportunities” to make local content.
He said: “We haven’t commissioned anything [with Discovery] jointly yet. But we are definitely scanning to try and find some of those sorts of shows just to give the channel a bit of a local feel.”
The launch of the new multi-channel couldn’t come at a better time for Nine, albeit somewhat morosely.
With sporting events being called off across the globe, there is a gap in content for male audiences.
Turner said: “The fact there’s no sport on at the moment it seems like it’d be the best time and ample opportunities to launch this.
“It’s kind of a bit of a perfect storm in an imperfect world at this point in time. Launching at a time where there is no sport on free-to-air or anywhere in the world, though clearly, it wasn’t part of the strategy, it’s a good time.”
And, the fact the content being launched was previously sitting behind a paywall, spells good news for Nine.
Turner said: “What we find is when content that has sat behind a paywall and not been exposed to a free to air audience, there’s a big percentage of people who haven’t seen it. It actually drives really good viewing.
“I think we’re just excited to see a new channel pop up targeting males 25-54s off and exposing these world-class brands to an audience who haven’t had the opportunity to watch them before.”
9Rush will launch 7.00pm on Sunday, April 5 with the exclusive premiere of the new series of Top Gear UK, featuring Australia’s favourite British import, Freddie Flintoff (who is part of the commentary team on Australian Ninja Warrior).
Some of the other shows to launch on 9Rush include: Gold Rush: Parker’s Trail, Street Outlaws, Live PD, Kindig Customs, Alaskan Bush People, Running Wild with Bear Grylls and Man vs Wild.